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Abstract: More than thirty years ago, the green revolution helped tropical Asia to forestall widespread poverty and also slowed the rate of agricultural expansion into forested lands. This took place in economies in which barriers to international trade were pervasive. The subsequent globalization of Asian economies has seen many of these barriers lowered or eliminated. This process has changed the terms of the poverty-environment tradeoff, reducing some old threats and introducing new ones.
Future growth with environmental protection in tropical Asia will require dismantling of some persistent policies favoring farm area expansion in uplands, but equally importantly, will depend on maintaining and improving property rights protection and the pace of nonagricultural employment growth, both of which should lessen pressures on forests and watersheds.
This paper was presented at a conference on “Agricultural and Rural Development in Asia: Ideas, Paradigms and Policies Three Decades After”, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Makati City, Philippines, 10-11 November 2005.